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Early Bird Report 9/27: Falcons sitting pretty in power rankings; don't apologize for 3-0

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Despite two close calls, the Falcons (3-0) are undefeated and considered one of the top teams in the NFL. They will put that reputation on the line this Sunday against another tough opponent, the 2-1 Buffalo Bills.

Today's Early Bird contains power rankings from several major news outlets, a healthy debate about which 3-0 team is the best and the reason no Falcons fan should apologize for perfection.  


FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY Falcons or Chiefs, who is the best 3-0 team in the NFL?

The Falcons and Chiefs are the only remaining undefeated NFL teams, but which one of them is better? That is the question that Jared Dubin of CBS Sports sought to answer in his "tale of the tape" piece.

Dubin begins by stating that Atlanta's 3-0 record isn't as surprising as how it was earned, while Kansas City's perfect start is a bit more surprising given the opposition it's face so far. Ultimately, he comes to the conclusion that the Chiefs have been the better team so far but does preface that by saying it's risky to put too much stock in such a small sample size.

Offensively, the Chiefs have scored more points, more points per drive, more yards and more yards per play than the Falcons this season. On defense, Atlanta has held opponents to fewer yards and fewer yards per play than Kansas City but has given up slightly more points. There is a bright spot for Falcons fans, however, as Dubin notes that the team's schedule may allow them to remain unbeaten longer than the Chiefs.

Power Rankings: Falcons enjoying a nice view from the top

As mentioned above, the Falcons are in a pretty exclusive club record-wise. This often tends to sit well with the creators of power rankings, but performance in the games is also an important factor as well. Atlanta's win over Detroit was enough to either help it hold steady in some rankings or continue its ascent in others. Of course, none of these rankings are as wildly important as the one our own Matt Tabeek puts together.

"Winning in the NFL is so much about survival. The Falcons have now survived two of the nearest misses of the season. That's not an insult. Why? Even though fans said I overrated the Lions and told me they would go 5-11, not only is Detroit not going to be anywhere near that bad, but the Lions are actually one of the stronger clubs in the NFC. Atlanta took it to them most of the day, and the decisive call at the end on the oh-so-close would-be winning catch by Golden Tate (a call that, by the way, was correct) shouldn't take away from Dan Quinn's squad."

"They barely got out of Detroit with a victory, but it counts the same as a blowout. They are 3-0, and we still haven't seen their best football."

"(Matt) Ryan snapped a streak of 309 pass attempts without an interception by throwing three picks in a span of 15 passes against the Lions. The Falcons still won despite this, and with home games against the Bills and Dolphins coming up, they could very well be 5-0 heading into a Super Bowl rematch against the Patriots in Week 7."

"This is the funny part of the NFL: The story on the Falcons is different this week if Golden Tate got a few more inches on the last play Sunday. It's really different if Tate gets that yard and the Bears hadn't dropped three potential touchdowns in the final seconds in Week 1 against Atlanta. But the Falcons are 3-0, so all these close games just are apparently building character."

"Matt Ryan and Julio Jones haven't even revved up yet, and they're still winning with a rising young defense and the superb running of Devonta Freeman."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Falcons have no need to apologize for 3-0

While many around the country are quick to point out that Atlanta could easily be 1-2 after two close calls, Steve Hummer of the AJC says no apology is necessary for two tight wins. Although the NFC South won't likely be decided until much later in the season, three victories over conference foes, including two who could make a playoff push, is a big deal. The reality is that the Falcons are 3-0, and there is no need to apologize for that.

NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Buffalo Bills Broncos didn't make Bills' defense pay for loading up to stop run

The Bills dared the Broncos to throw the ball against them on Sunday, and it payed off. In Buffalo's 26-16 win, it forced Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian to throw the ball 40 times, according to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. The Broncos had averaged 37.5 runs over the first two weeks, but they attempted just 23 run plays against the Bills, gaining 111 yards.

Buffalo played with eight men in the box for much of the afternoon against Denver, and its secondary was effective in limiting the Broncos' downfield options.

BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton facing 'gut-check time'

After having surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder this offseason, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has yet to put together the type of performance Carolina fans have become accustomed to seeing from the former NFL MVP. In the Panthers' 34-13 loss to the Saints, Newton completed 17-of-26 pass attempts for 167 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.

"It's gut-check time for a lot of people," Newton said after Sunday's game, according to’s Mark Inabinett, "and that's including myself.

"Things on the offensive side has to be better," Newton said. "I'm proclaiming that it will. So moving forward, there's no need to panic, there's no need to rush, there's no need to be up in arms about the situation."


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